Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on November 3rd, 2010

Content Guide for Mobile Advertising - How to Avoid the “Google Slap”

Mobile advertising is a relatively new phenomenon in world of strategic communications, so it goes as no surprise that some campaigns have recently violated Google’s policy for content guidelines. Known as the “google slap”, this legendary ban is dished out when marketers violate too many rules when using Google’s search engine advertising service: AdWords.

Most mobile marketers also use AdWords for mobile advertising campaigns and the slaps keeping coming. Volacci is fortunate enough to avoid a sore jaw and the hand imprint with our mobile campaigns, and we have done it with the help of the content guide to mobile advertising that Google so graciously published on the Web.

Do you want to avoid the “Google Slap”? Then please read the Content Guide to Mobile Advertising like you mean it.

Mobile Content

Since I know most of you have work to do, I will keep it short and sweet. Here is what you will be reading about:

• Fundamentals of the Policy

• Product Examples

• How to Comply with the Policy

• How to Rebound if You Get Slapped

• One More Thing...

Please excuse the “Googley” language, I will attempt to rephrase to the best of my ability.

Fundamentals of the Policy

Google AdWords prohibits the: “promotion of mobile content that do not clearly and accurately display the pricing structure.”

Translation: don’t be shady and misleading with the cost of your advertised product or service. For example: Don’t have one price on the ad and another price on the landing page.

If you violate this policy, Google is legally allowed to undergo the following actions:

• disapproval of ads

• account suspension

• automated suspensions upon set-up of new accounts (ban from Google AdWords)

• disable your domain

I put them in order of severity. You shouldn’t get banned on your first “slap”. But if you continue to break the rules, your mobile advertising campaign will be (whispering) erased from existence.

So, break the rules. Get banned. Got it?

Product Examples

Certain products and services are reputed for shady advertising, while others smell so fresh and so clean. Here is a short list of products that this policy applies to:

• ringtones

• ringback tones

• text messages

• love advice and predictions

• gossip

• weather

• adult content

• horoscopes

• news and sports updates

• games

• quizzes that lead to a subscription

• other types of mobile content that is not free

That last bullet point seems a bit fuzzy. So maybe I can clarify: if you are selling something, you need to comply. “But how?” asks the skeptical man with his arms crossed. If you need more detailed information, check out the AdWords advertising policies. To learn how to comply, read on.

How to Comply with the Policy

Setting up mobile ads can be relatively simple. But there are a few criteria you must meet in order for your ad to get placed in the palms of your audience’s hands. Here is a short list of types of services and the specifics that pertain to each.

One-Off Services

The price, billing interval, and identification of subscription service must be clearly displayed on the same page as the SMS code. no opt-in is necessary.

All Subscription Services

The ad must include the following:

• price

• billing interval


“For only $9.99 a year, get a subscription to Dogs Who Wine Weekly”

Yes, please.

Subscription Services Where Website Requests Personal Information

Every mobile ad will be linked to a subsequent landing page. If your landing page requests personal information like name, phone number, email address or date of birth, you must also have the following clearly displayed on the landing page:

• price

• billing interval

• opt-in mechanism indicating that users accept the price and the recurring nature of the service. Users must not be able to proceed without using this opt-in to agree to the service. This is usually taken care of with a check box that says “I agree with the details of the service” or something to that effect.

Subscription Services Where Website Promotes SMS Code

If you are promoting an SMS code on your landing page, you must have the following clearly displayed next to it:

• price (the highest possible, if varying)

• identification of the service as a subscription

• billing interval

The criteria for these different types of services are very easy to follow, unless you are trying to scam someone. If that is the case, you deserve the super-Google slap coming your way.

I Got a Small Slap, How Do I Rebound?

Like I stated in the beginning, there are plenty of good, wholesome folks that have been Google slapped due to a misunderstanding of the policy. If you are one of these, just remove all the content that violates this policy from your ad text and website and resubmit.

How to Resubmit a Disapproved Ad

If your ad was disapproved, simply editing and saving your ad will resubmit the ad for review. Your status column will change from “disapproved” to “under review”. When you change the actual ad, Google views it as deleting the original ad and creating a new one. So if you edit your ad, any statistics will be reset. The same holds true when you copy an ad to another ad group. Be aware.

One Last Thing...

Google prefers that mobile advertising campaigns maintain a family-friendly status, and so does Volacci. Your ads will be classified as “Family Safe”, “Non-Family Safe”, or “Adult”, depending on the content.

Google has content guidelines covering everything from Abortion to Webspam. If you would like to lose yourself in the digital archives of Google law, by all means, click here.

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